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Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Spring 2005

LAT 323 • 2-Catullus

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30140 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
WAG 112

Course Description

His life—a brief one: he was dead at thirty, thus beating Alexander by three years—spanned one of the most critical periods (84-54 BC) of the late Roman Republic. He moved in high society: Caesar he knew well, and didn’t hesitate to lampoon. Though he lived in the capital, he never lost touch with his north Italian roots: his birthplace of Verona, his country house at Sirmio on the Lago di Garda. He served on the staff of the Governor of Bithynia, and for most of his adult life kept up an agonizing love-affair with an older married woman whom he calls ‘Lesbia’, but was probably in fact Clodia, the sister of Cicero’s dissolute opponent P. Clodius Pulcher, best known for gatecrashing a women-only festival of the Bona Dea (‘Good Goddess’) in female drag. All the time he wrote poetry: clever, allusive, technically brilliant—but also passionate, violent, despairing, and sometimes of quite scarifying obscenity. It survived, by pure luck, in one single manuscript: his was not the stuff of which respectable school curricula tend to be made. His name was Gaius Valerius Catullus, and by general agreement he is one of the greatest lyric poets ever to set pen to paper (though he also wrote, among other things, epigrams, epithalamia. elegy. and a mini-epic). In this course we shall try to at least sample most of them. Class-work will be devoted to translation and discussion, and not just of his Latin: everything from his literary antecedents to his metres (some of them as exotic as they’re fascinating) will get looked at. Nor will we forget the social and historical background. This is a poet who’s quite alarmingly modern, and not in the remotest degree stuffy or boring.

Grading Policy

Three Hour Exams will be sufficient, no final. So each will count 27%. Class participation will count 19%.


Daniel H. Garrison. The Student's Catullus (U of Oklahoma Press, 1991)


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